After opening your presents this morning and turning off the 437th straight showing of A Christmas Story on the tube, you may feel like taking a summertime stroll (thank you, global warming!).
But should that stroll pass the Huntington Beach Pier, expect to be greeted by Orange Countians with this special holiday message: Jesus is NOT the reason for the season.
Bruce Gleason of Backyard Skeptics sent along word that members of his Orange County activist group for atheists, humanists and non-theists join Riverside Atheists and Freethinkers in distributing their "Origins of Christmas" hand outs from noon to 2 p.m. today ("Yes, Chistmas Day") at the foot of the Huntington Beach Pier.
"Jesus is simply not the reason for the Christmas season," reads a Backyard Skeptics announcement. "Unknown to most Christians, there is not one of the Christmas traditions that can be linked with Christianity. The Christmas tree, the Yule log, giving of presents, candy canes and ornaments on the tree all come from pagan traditions.
"Christmas as we know it today has its origins in the winter solstice celebration observed by many pagan religions, and it was co-opted by the early Christian cults who had no equivalent holiday of their own. Most biblical scholars admit that Jesus was most probably not born even close to the winter solstice, which in many cultures was the largest party of the year celebrating the return of longer days and of their Sun god.
"The commercialism of Christmas has largely contributed to its current popularity, and the general public's lack of knowledge about the history of this winter holiday helps perpetuate the myth of the 'War on Christmas.' It also contributes to the widespread public ignorance of Christmas."
The OC and I.E. atheists and freethinkers swear (to ... uh ... hmmm?) that the purpose of this event "is not to eliminate Christmas but to celebrate the real reason for the season: to find a source of joy, happiness, hope, goodwill and generosity."
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The should hope Christians they encounter by the pier today share that goodwill toward non-Christian men.
"The second purpose is to let other non-believers know that there is a community of non-theists in Orange County which supports science, rational thinking and reason," concludes the announcement, that adds a hope (but not a prayer) that those who check out the hand-outs might want to learn more about the local secular community.
It's like they're tearing a page from the Jehovah Witnesses' Watchtower playbook!